Sep. 06 2022

New Students Arrive, Academic Year Begins

The campus is alive with activity as students return to campus. Fall semester classes begin today.

The 2022 incoming cohort of some 800 students is one of the School’s largest ever. Among them are 500 MPH students plus students in other master’s and doctoral programs. They also include students in a new fully online Advanced MPH program.

They represent 43 countries and 45 U.S. states and territories. Many bring work experience, some with advanced degrees, including doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, educators, social workers, and more. More than a third are first-generation college students, and many are graduates of the School’s pipeline programs, geared to promote diversity in the field.

“You are our future leaders,” said Dean Linda P. Fried in welcoming remarks at Alumni Auditorium. “We are deeply dedicated to assuring that you lead with all the knowledge, skills, and tools that you will need to create a healthy and just world.”

The Dean emphasized the power of public health to lengthen and improve lives by the millions. Counter to common wisdom, public health—not medicine or genetics—is responsible for the lion’s share of population health through critical interventions, such as those that protect clean air and drinking water, she explained.

Bob Fullilove, Associate Dean for Community and Minority Affairs, added his own welcoming remarks that emphasized the importance of listening to community perspectives. 

New students took part in faculty-led lectures on public health topics spanning anti-racism and health policy, data science and public health, healthy aging and longevity, and strategies for coming will stress. They also participated in workshops on self-care, financial literacy, networking and resume building, and getting involved in student life. 

For the first time this year, the Office of Education will offer an online module to help students reduce “math anxiety” and provide research-based guidance for effective study habits. WritingWorks, a peer support program providing encouragement and accountability, is available to second-year master’s students.

Looking ahead, the first event in the Dean’s Grand Rounds Series on the Future of Public Health will take place on September 14 with a reception following. The conversation between faculty members Dean Fried, Sandra Albrecht, Jasmine McDonald, and Cecilia Sorensen will examine how science is delivered in the medical and public health systems. 

In her welcoming remarks, Dean Fried told incoming students they have a special place in the School’s history as members of the second Centennial Class (last year’s incoming class is the first Centennial Class). Columbia’s Public Health School was founded a century ago, in the early days of the field of public health and just on the heels of the flu pandemic.

“You will be part of thinking with us about how to launch the second century of public health and what our goals should be,” she said. “Everything you learn in the classroom will be part of forming that vision and those goals. It’s a crucial moment in time for public health. Public health is more important than ever.”